Broadcast Engineer at BellMedia, Computer history buff, compulsive deprecated, disparate hardware hoarder, R/C, robots, arduino, RF, and everything in between.
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Kickstarter Reminder — DuinoKit Jr. Electronics/Arduino Project Kit

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DuinoKit Jr2

This is just a quick reminder that the DuinoKit Jr. Kickstarter project is down to less than a week. It’s already reached its funding goal, so any stragglers out there who might be looking for a fun all-in-one electronics style kit that teaches Arduino and programming, take a look at the official DuinoKit Jr. KS webpage.

Project owner, Dan Alich, has finished two successful Kickstarter projects previously, both larger versions of this kit called the DuinoKit Essentials. Dan understands the issues with manufacturing and shipping, so he’s got the experience needed to delivery the products on time for a May 2015 delivery.

It’s a very cool kit — the circuit board comes with all the electronics components already mounted — just insert the Arduino Nano (included with the kit) into he slot and you’re ready to go. The kit also comes with jumper wires and a USB cable to connect the Arduino Nano to a computer.

The portability of the kit is great, and Dan’s crammed a LOT of components into this kit, making it a sure-fire kit for giving any hobbyist (young or old) plenty of hands-on time in creating hundreds of projects. (The kit will come with a number of project cards so you won’t be starting from scratch.)

You can read my original post on the DuinoKit Jr. here.

 

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Pi Day Fashion Alert: Pi Bow Tie

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The perfect accessory for the well-rounded GeekDad.

Pi Day is coming up, and if you’re the kind of geeky dad who likes to dress up to celebrate mathematical holidays (or you know someone who is), then you’re in luck. The Speicher Tie Company, purveyors of some really great bow ties (we’ve written about them before), has your Pi Day fashion needs covered with their handcrafted Pi Bow Ties.

Chalkboard Pi Bow Tie

Chalkboard Pi Bow Tie

This mathematical tie comes in two colors, the Chalkboard Pi Bow Tie and the Red Apple Pi Bow Tie.

Red Apple Pi Bow Tie

Red Apple Pi Bow Tie

Each tie sells for $25 and is available in both pre-tied and self-tie varieties, as well as a youth pre-tied version.

Chalkboard Pi Self-tie Bow Tie

The Chalkboard Pi Bow Tie, self-tie version.

And if Pi Day is not your thing (no judgement), the Speicher Tie Company has plenty of other geeky bow ties to choose from.

Bonus! Bow Tie Tying Tutorial

What’s that? Don’t know how to tie a bow tie? No problem–Speicher Tie Company’s own Adam Speicher has a great step-by-step video guide on how to master the art of bow tie tying. It’s easier than you think!

Images via Speicher Tie Company.

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Hacking Oklahoma State University’s Student ID Cards

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[Sam] took an information security class at Oklahoma State University back in 2013. For his final project, he and a team of other students had to find a security vulnerability and then devise a theoretical plan to exploit it. [Sam’s] team decided to focus on the school’s ID cards. OSU’s ID cards are very similar to credit cards. They are the same size and shape, they have data encoded on a magnetic strip, and they have a 16 digit identification number. These cards were used for several different purposes. Examples include photo ID, physical access to some areas on campus, charges to an online account, and more.

[Sam] and his team analyzed over 100 different cards in order to get a good sample. They found that all cards started with same eight digits. This is similar to the issuer identification number found in the first six digits of a credit card number. Th analysis also showed that there were only three combinations used for the next two digits. Those were either 05, 06, or 11. With that in mind, the total possible number of combinations for card numbers was mathematically calculated to be three million.

OSU also had a URL printed on the back of each card. This website had a simple form with a single field. The user can enter in a 16 digit card number and the system would tell the user if that card was valid. The page would also tell you if the card holder was an employee, a student, or if there were any other special flags on the card. We’re not sure why every student would need access to this website, but the fact is that the URL was printed right on the back of the card. The website also had no limit to how many times a query could be made. The only hint that the university was aware of possible security implications was the disclaimer on the site. The disclaimer mentioned that usage of the tool was “logged and tracked”.

The next step was to purchase a magnetic card reader and writer. The team decoded all of the cards and analyzed the data. They found that each card held an expiration date, but the expiration date was identical for every single card.  The team used the reader/writer to copy the data from [Sam’s] card and modify the name. They then wrote the data back onto a new, blank magnetic card. This card had no printing or markings on it. [Sam] took the card and was able to use it to purchase items from a store on campus. He noticed that the register reached back to a server somewhere to verify his real name. It didn’t do any checks against the name written onto the magstripe. Even still, the cashier still accepted a card with no official markings.

The final step was to write a node.js script to scrape the number verification website. With just 15 lines of code, the script will run through all possible combinations of numbers in a random sequence and log the result. The website can handle between three and five requests per second, which means that brute forcing all possible combinations can be completed in roughly two days. These harvested numbers can then be written onto blank cards and potentially used to purchase goods on another student’s account.

[Sam’s] team offers several recommendations to improve the security of this system. One idea is to include a second form of authorization, such as a PIN. The PIN wouldn’t be stored on the card, and therefore can’t be copied in this manner. The primary recommendation was to take down the verification website. So far OSU has responded by taking the website offline, but no other changes have been made.


Filed under: security hacks
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ATtiny85 Does Over The Air NTSC

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[CNLohr] has made a habit of using ATtiny microcontrollers for everything, and one of his most popular projects is using an ATTiny85 to generate NTSC video. With a $2 microcontroller and eight pins, [CNLohr] can put text and simple graphics on any TV. He’s back at it again, only this time the microcontroller isn’t plugged into the TV.

The ATtiny in this project is overclocked to 30MHz or so using the on-chip PLL. That, plus a few wires of sufficient length means this chip can generate and broadcast NTSC video.

[CNLohr] mentions that it should be possible to use this board to transmit closed captioning directly to a TV. If you’re looking for the simplest way to display text on a monitor with an AVR, there ‘ya go: a microcontroller and two wires. He’s unable to actually test this, as he lost the remote for his tiny TV from the turn of the millennium. Because there’s no way for [CNLohr] to enable closed captioning on his TV, he can’t build the obvious application for this circuit – a closed caption Twitter bot. That doesn’t mean you can’t.

Video below.


Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, video hacks
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Adam Savage’s First Order of Retrievability Tool Boxes

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Let’s face it, we’re all a bit obsessed with tools. Whether it’s an oscilloscope or a screwdriver, having just the right tool can be the difference between loving what you are doing, or dreading it. But oddly enough, not much is talked about tool organization. We tend to think that how you organize your tools is just as import as the tools themselves.

[Adam Savage] of Mythbusters fame might just be the king of tool organization. In this thread on the Replica Props Forum, [Adam] shares the design and construction of two sets of mobile tool boxes he built while working at Industrial Light and Magic. The idea is simple: First Order Retrievability. That is, you should never have to move one tool to get to another. That in turn affords the fastest, most efficient way of working.

The evolution of this idea started with medical bags (the kind doctors would use, back in the day when doctors still made house calls), but as [Adam’s] tool collection grew, the leather was no match for 50 pounds of tools. So, he stepped up to two aluminum tool boxes. Adding wheels and a scissor lift allowed for a moveable set, at just the right height, that are always in reach. Perfect for model making, where being able to move to different parts of a model, and taking your tools with you is key. If you’re looking for a list of what’s inside [Adam]’s box of wonder, here you go.

What are some of your favorite ways of organizing your tools? What tips or tricks do you have? Post a picture or description in the comments.  I’m sure we all could learn a bit from one another.


Filed under: tool hacks
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New Project: Long-Range Wireless Broadcasts: Raspberry Pi Slow Scan Television (SSTV) Camera

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iPhoto-7In this project the Raspberry Pi with the PiCam is used as a wireless camera which can transmit images over long distances, usually hundreds of meters! Images are transmitted by amateur radio (ham radio) using slow scan television (SSTV) on the 2 meter band (144.5MHz). Thanks to Oliver Mattos and […]

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